The Yankees have clinched a playoff spot. Let’s get on with it.
FIRST BASE: ZACK ATTACK Zack Greinke shut down the Red Sox last night for his 15th win of the season, one of the rare times we were rooting for the Sox to lose. Greinke’s season has been straight out of the Pedro 1999/2000 mold, as has his pitching style. Tim Lincecum has put up similar numbers, but without near-complete control of four pitches, which is what Greinke has. By running his “record” to 15-8—and “record” is in quotes because it in no way describes his skill—he has put himself in a position to win the Cy Young, which is voted upon by people who put more stock in the won-loss record than I do. (I do not disregard it entirely, as some do, but I do not worship the Jack Morris altar of pitching to the score, while still loving Morris. Morris is, invariably, the one person won-loss record proponents will point to, despite numerous incidents where players with better W-L records beat better pitchers for the Cy Young honors). Greinke’s main competition will be Felix Hernandez, who has one more win, an ERA a half-run higher, and 30 fewer strikeouts. It wouldn’t be terrible if he won; Seattle could certainly use it. But it would be wrong.
I have written elsewhere about what Greinke means for baseball. He was promoted too quickly through the Royals’ ranks, and somewhere along the line the crushing weight of expectations began to overshadows his talent. He retreated into himself, and eventually found himself at the edge of a nervous breakdown. The Royals did everything right with him, giving him ample time off, letting him ease back into the game and the rotation, and publicly supporting him all the way. It strongly bucked the que es mas macho culture of baseball for the better. The pressures of being a baseball player today are very adult ones, and they deserve to be dealt with an adult fashion. The Royals did that, Greinke did the work, and it’s time they both were rewarded.
2. SECOND BASE: PLAX GOES TO JAIL Plaxico Burress headed to jail yesterday, sentenced to two years after shooting himself in the leg at a nightclub (the law banned concealed weapons). The sentence has led some to become outraged at the equivalencies for NFL criminals: Plax goes to jail for, ultimately, two years for hurting no one but himself; Michael Vick served two years in prison, yet some people think he hasn’t paid enough of a price for his role in masterminding a dogfighting ring; and Donté Stallworth got a handful of days for community service after working out a plea deal with the family of a Miami pedestrian he killed with his car. These equivalencies are false. All of these players pleaded guilty, and the court, in conjunction with the aggrieved parties, worked out punishments they felt were appropriate. That Plax will serve as many years as Vick shouldn’t anger you; it should reinforce the strength of New York’s gun laws which, in a city of 8 million people, go a long way toward keeping you safe. Most of the complaints, though, are about Stallworth, and his the relative lightness of the sentence he received—but the victim’s family signed off on it, and will earn (presumably) a substantial portion of the salary that Stallworth earns from here on out, and not only that, he can never drive again. He also can’t play football this year: he was suspended by the NFL. Everyone’s paying for what they’ve done in different ways, and each should be judged by their own standard.